Announced at the 2020 Spending Review, the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities across the UK, supporting town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.
The Fund is jointly managed by HM Treasury (HMT), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department for Transport (DfT).
The first round of the Fund will focus on three themes: smaller transport projects that make a genuine difference to local areas; town centre and high street regeneration; and support for maintaining and expanding the UK’s world-leading portfolio of cultural and heritage assets, in particular:
- Transport investments including (but not limited to) public transport, active travel, bridge repairs, bus priority lanes, local road improvements and major structural maintenance, and accessibility improvements. The Fund is requesting proposals for high-impact small, medium and by exception larger local transport schemes to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, cut congestion, support economic growth and improve the experience of transport users.
- Regeneration and town centre investment, building on the Towns Fund framework to upgrade eyesore buildings and dated infrastructure, acquire and regenerate brownfield sites, invest in secure community infrastructure and crime reduction, and bring public services and safe community spaces into town and city centres.
- Cultural investment maintaining, regenerating, or creatively repurposing museums, galleries, visitor attractions (and associated green spaces) and heritage assets as well as creating new community-owned spaces to support the arts and serve as cultural spaces.
All areas in the UK are able to access the Fund. Specifically, in Great Britain:
- Unitary authorities (including metropolitan borough councils), London borough councils and district councils in two tier areas in England; and, unitary authorities in Scotland and Wales are eligible to submit bids.
- County councils with transport powers, combined authorities, mayoral combined authorities and the Greater London Authority (GLA) are eligible to submit one transport bid; and unitary authorities in Scotland and Wales, and unitary authorities in England with transport powers are able to submit one additional bid which must be for transport.
Local authorities may submit joint bids.
Each bid submitted by local institutions can be a bid for an individual project or a package bid consisting of multiple projects.
The Fund will focus investment in projects that require up to £20m of funding. Bids above £20m and below £50m will be accepted for transport projects only.
Capacity funding of £125,000 will be allocated to all eligible local authorities to help develop their bids for later rounds of the Fund.
Applicants must submit their bids to the MHCLG by 18 June 2021 (noon). Majority transport bids will be assessed by the DfT and must also be submitted before this application date.
Further guidance and templates for bid submissions will be published on the GOV.UK website soon.